Taking to the Skies

So after going MIA for nearly 3 years, I’m back… This time round with a new and improved blog, not only about cars. I decided to take to the skies as well, with a new found passion for aviation. This is probably due to me flying overseas for the first time at the ripe old age of 24. I have been fortunate enough to travel to 3 countries in the past 3 months! For those interested in where, Dubai, Mauritius and where I’m typing this from Nigeria (won’t be coming back here)… I have flown nationally many times on smaller planes but never internationally on the larger planes. For those who are my followers for the motoring posts don’t worry I will still be regularly posting about cars because they still remain a serious passion of mine.

What’s making headlines in the world of aviation at the moment? Of course it’s the Airbus A350 XWB 1000. The new 1000 is currently Europe’s largest twin-engined passenger jet. It took to the skies for the first time on Thursday last week, seeking to grab the spotlight from Boeing’s ever popular 777.  The A350-1000 is only scheduled to enter service in 2017, although Airbus seems to always be plagued by delays and setbacks, think A380. So what makes this big girl so special? To quote Airbus  the planes is “designed for high efficiency, maximum reliability and optimised performance”. Let’s take a more in depth look at just some of technology and design that this beautiful plane has to offer.

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Pre-production render of the A350-1000

How many people are planned to be squeezed into the 74m long A350-1000? Airbus claims it will seat a total 366 passengers. But then you start to dig deeper and see that the plane can be configured to seat up to 440 passengers for a ‘significant revenue-generating advantage for operators’. Understandably carriers need to make money but lets hope they actually start to take true passenger comfort in mind. After all the cabin concept is founded on Airbus’ four philosophies: comfort, service, ambience and design. In the images below you can see the proposed seating layouts the can be configured as well the business class where a lucky few will get to sit.

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Proposed cabin layouts

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4 abreast busines class sitting for the well-heeled

The A350-1000 will be powered from engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which will allow this largest A350 XWB to attain even greater levels of efficiency which while providing a 25% decrease in fuel and CO2 emissions. Airbus claims that with every tonne of fuel saved  more than 3 tonnes of CO2 avoided. Pretty impressive stuff. The new A350 family is now made up of advanced materials; fully recyclable titanium and advanced aluminium alloys to create the aircraft’s innovative all-new Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) fuselage. The new plane aims to please Greenpeace as it meets the most stringent environmental standards.

Powering the A350-1000 is the higher output Roll-Royce Trent XWB-97 powerplant which provides the plane with increased payload and range capabilities. With 97,000 lbs. of thrust it is currently the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus while as mentioned burning 25% less fuel. The Trent engines can be customised for certain regions and carriers around the world. An example is Airbus plans to configure engines for what they call ‘hot and high’ regions for the Middle Eastern customers (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar). This customised engine option has increased thrust for these hot regions as well as for area’s of higher altitude. Ever flown on an A380? I unfortunately have not but have heard it is very quiet. For those who appreciate this you can rejoice as the A350-1000 is said to be even quieter. The Trent XWB will also benefit from the next-generation reduced acoustic mode scattering engine duct system (RAMSES), which is an acoustic quieting engine intake. Flying won’t be the same again.

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Most powerful version of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine, the XWB-97

Probably my favourite thing about the A350-1000 is something many people don’t realise are so advanced – the wings. These are some amazing and beautiful wings to boot. They are built primarily from carbon composite materials which keeps the weight down but makes them incredibly strong. The wings are a massive part in allowing for faster crusing, improved efficiency as well as the aircraft’s range. Using computers these wings are constantly able to adapt during flight to maximize aerodynamics in various phases of flight. The A350-1000 has a wingspan that is common to the three proposed variants. With an area of 442 m2 the A350 features the largest wing of a single-deck widebody aircraft in production. These technological marvels are produced at Airbus’ new £400M, 46,000-square-metre  factory in Broughton.

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Incredible wings with beautiful curved winglets

The A350 XWB’s cockpit has been updated – built around an arrangement of six identical liquid crystal and interchangeable displays. The main focus on Airbus’ cockpits are to creating ergonomic flight decks that combine commonality and innovation. This commonality with Airbus’ other jets, means this flight deck configuration is fully aligned with the company’s unique Cross Crew Qualification concept – which gives pilots the possibility of transitioning from one Airbus aircraft type using digital fly-by-wire controls to another via difference training as opposed to full type training.  Airbus says the cockpit design allows for future advances in navigation technology by allowing the avionics to be updated and upgraded for flight management and controls.

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The ‘office’ for the lucky pilots who will fly this awesome machine.

Only 6 days ago on the 24th of November the Airbus A350-1000 completed it’s first successful flight which lasted a little over 4 hours before the plane landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France. The aircraft is scheduled to go into service in 2017, although Airbus has already encountered delays. I do hope that the multi billion euro investment of this amazing aircraft pay off. Will Airbus be able deliver the current 196 planes that have been ordered? Only time will tell. Seeing as my international travel has kicked off hopefully I will be lucky enough to flight on one of these majestic planes next year.

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A very proud and I’m sure somewhat relieved development team after the A350’s maiden flight

It’s good to be back and thank you to those who have read this post. Before signing out I’d like to extend my sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who were lost in the tragic Lamia plane crash in Colombia, which took the lives of 75 people among those many players of the Chapecoense football team. May you rest in peace.

Have a great day everyone!

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